Hawaii and our banking industry have been closely aligned since the 19th century. Our histories are reflections of each other: in our growth, in our trials and in our challenges.
The diversity of our people is reflected in the diversity of our banks. Our roots go back to the plantation era. We supported the family entrepreneurs who pioneered small business in the islands. Growing up together as one ‘ohana, we took care of each other. That has always been the island way.
That is why, during this period of uncertainty, all local banks are working together, with state and federal regulators, and with the national banking industry to find the best ways to manage the impact and recovery from COVID-19.
As the state regulator, we have a mandate to ensure the industry’s safety and soundness, protect consumers and to promote economic growth. But more than that, we have a longstanding commitment to Hawaii and its people. We are a part of this community and we are working hard to ensure that we will all make it through these tough times and not just survive, but to ultimately thrive.
Our local banks understand that these are unprecedented times and they stand ready and willing to work with customers in dealing with all of their financial concerns. From small consumer loans to mortgages, banks are ready to assist customers who find themselves suddenly faced with reduced or loss of income due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Homeowners and businesses should reach out to their banks to explain their situation. Banks need your help to identify who is hurting from reduced income and who may need special assistance.
My job, in overseeing the state’s banks, is to ensure that our citizens have broad easy access to banking and credit services. I will continue to do so during this pandemic. Rest assured that we in Hawaii have one of the strongest banking systems in the country. In fact, Hawaii was the only state to survive the fallout of the mortgage crisis in 2011 with no bank closures.
With just over 5,000 banks across the nation, the U.S. banking system is large and diverse and designed to serve the economic needs of the entire nation. U.S. banks are regulated by an experienced network of state and federal agencies.
Most importantly for consumers and businesses, depositors are protected by the full faith and credit of the United States through the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).
Founded in 1933, the FDIC has provided stability to our banking system and assurance to all of our citizens through good times and bad.
Never has it been more important for all of us to close ranks, in this most difficult of times. The banking industry of Hawaii stands ready and willing to lend its support in that effort.
Iris K. Ikeda is commissioner of financial institutions, state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs.